There are three things in life that are certain - death, taxes and the crystal ball dropping in Times Square (New York City) on New Year's Eve. Truth be told, I did not really see the ball drop this year because the TV channel that my wife and I were watching got to the ball only after it had slid almost to the bottom of the pole. Anyway this is a good time to peer into the crystal ball and make a few predictions for 2012. While most of the experts seem to be fixated on the number 10, I'll limit my predictions to THREE. Here they are:
1. THE SMART PHONE REPLACES YOUR WALLET AND YOUR ID
NFC (near field communication) equipped smart phones will be widely available in the U.S. through most of the major carriers before the end of 2012. How does NFC work? The technology behind NFC uses inductive coupling to transfer data between two NFC-equipped devices when they are within a few centimeters of each other. Europe is way ahead of us in the use of NFC-equipped smart phones as a payment method and for identification purposes. The customer just taps the phone at the POS register instead of swiping a credit card. This method of payment is quite secure because of two-factor authentication which requires the customer to key in a PIN or through biometric scanning of the customer's fingerprint. Multiple credit cards, store cards, loyalty cards and bank accounts can be linked to a single NFC phone which means that a wallet full of cards is on its way to becoming obsolete.
The ability of a smart phone to display 2-D bar codes or other visual tags will increasingly be used in lieu of boarding passes at airports, driver's licenses and other forms of paper identification. NFC phones used in conjunction with two-factor identification eliminates many of the problems with stolen IDs and credit cards.
By the year 2015, at least 30% of the people will be "wallet-less".
2. ENTERPRISES STAY AWAY FROM THE PUBLIC CLOUD
Companies will continue to stay away from the public cloud because of security concerns. Security in the public cloud is still very elusive. According to Vivek Wadhwa, a columnist for Bloomberg Businessweek and the Washington Post, "Cloud computing provides significant cost savings and operational advantages. But it also unleashes a Pandora’s box of security concerns. We’ve already seen cloud break-ins originating from China. And a number of legitimate Internet companies have suffered when the FBI confiscated a shared server in a cloud hosting facility that also hosted rogue applications."
A "public cloud" means that a company's applications and data are hosted on servers and networks that are outside the company's firewall managed by a third-party, which means that the company has to rely on the cloud service provider to safeguard the company's application and data. The public cloud will still gain popularity among start-ups for testing new products because of the cost benefits it provides.
Hybrid Clouds are beginning to emerge, but I am not sure if they will be able to address all the security concerns adequately. What are hybrid clouds? They are a combination of public and private clouds where some of the company's software and/or data resides on the public cloud and some on its private cloud which is essentially the company's internal network.
Cloud service providers have a long way to go before enterprises will entrust their applications and data to the public cloud.
3. THE AGILE MANIFESTO IS ADOPTED BY MORE COMPANIES
The majority of technology projects are behind schedule, over budget and/or does not meet specifications according to the results of a study published earlier this year by "The Standish Group". The primary reason for this high rate of failure is the continuing use of outdated project management methods that rely on a command-and-control approach where most decisions related to design, cost and time are made at the top based on incorrect information. Management is lulled into a false sense of security when they buy into the notion that projects can be executed successfully by creating detailed plans upfront, when many of the parameters and constraints needed to create such plans are yet unknown. We've all heard about the urban myth that a project plan must spell out everything in minute detail including the condition “..in case someone falls under a bus..”. This is a hangover from the DoD standards. If you are building nuclear reactors it’s a good idea to spell out everything and back-up every decision with a series of checks and signatures. But most of us are not building nuclear reactors, and for management to insist that project plans be created with an excruciating level of detail that is both unnecessary and inaccurate before the project can even start is ludicrous. (see http://www.iso-9001-checklist.co.uk/tutorial/4.2-documentation.htm).
In order to increase the probability that a project will be successful it is my opinion that the only solution is to adopt the "Agile Manifesto". It is refreshing to see that it is being adopted by more and more companies as they realize that traditional project management is just not working. The manifesto for agile software development is as follows:
- "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan."
The twelve principles behind the Agile Manifesto are:
- "Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
- Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
- Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
- Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
- Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
- Working software is the primary measure of progress.
- Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
- Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.
- The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly."
More information about the agile manifesto can be found at http://agilemanifesto.org/.
I believe that companies will have no choice but to adopt agile management processes to not only retain their best talent but also to stay competitive in today's global market.